Our Holiday Has Been Cancelled: What Do We Do?
“I received a letter from the holiday company today, and they’ve told me that due to unforeseen circumstances, our holiday which is due to take place in less than three weeks has been cancelled. Apparently the hotel has been undergoing refurbishments and was supposed to have been reopened by now...but isn’t.
"Of course, they are offering me a refund of the money that I paid them, but that’s hardly the point as I have two children who have been looking forward to their holiday in Greece for most of the year, and I haven’t had the heart to tell them the trip is off.
"I’ve tried to look around for similar holidays but there’s nothing at short notice that suits us, flight wise with small children unless it’s prohibitively expensive. What can we do?”
Advice on the Next StepFirstly, get hold of a copy of the brochure, either online or in hard copy, and study the terms and conditions. There should be details of what they will offer you in the event of this type of cancellation.
Are the tour operators ABTA members? If so, then they have to abide by the ABTA code of conduct too, which says that in the case of a cancellation like this, they should offer you an alternative, if available, or a refund. You could also be entitled to extra compensation for a really late cancellation, especially if it puts you in the type of situation that you are now in.
Even if the tour operator isn’t an ABTA member, they are bound by the Package Tour Regulations 1992, if the holiday you’ve bought is considered to be a package holiday. In your case, as you booked travel and accommodation in Greece for one, inclusive price, your holiday is a package.
The Regulations give you the choice of compensation:
- Asking the tour operator for an alternative holiday of similar or better standard (at no extra cost to you)
- Accepting a holiday that’s of a lower standard and claiming the difference in cost back
- Cancelling the holiday altogether and accepting a refund
The Regulations also give you the right to ask for compensation if your holiday is cancelled – not just for financial loss, but also disappointment and inconvenience.
The only exception to these rules is if the holiday is cancelled due to circumstances that were out of the control of the tour operator – for example the hotel had burned down. In that case you would only be entitled to a refund. This is called ‘force majeure’
What Should I Do?Contact the tour operator and explain your situation. Tell them that you don’t wish to accept a refund, and that as per the Package Travel Regulations 1992, you would like them to arrange an alternative, suitable holiday for you and your family, at no extra cost to yourself.
You have to be reasonable – if there are no possible alternatives, and they have tried to help you, your other option is to suggest that you purchase a suitable holiday to the same destination elsewhere, and claim back any additional costs from the original tour operator as compensation.
This is perfectly reasonable – although if you are going to do this, don’t book an extortionately expensive trip and expect them to foot the bill, as it only needs to be of broadly the same quality. If you go ahead and book a five star trip to a luxury destination, that costs three times as much as your initial holiday, you will get short shrift from the tour operator.
If the tour operator refuse to be reasonable, make a note of any telephone calls, and keep any written or e-mailed correspondence you have had with them. Your only option now is to book the alternative holiday – then claim the extra cost back through the court system. Write a letter to the tour operator when you return, setting out your reasons for the claim, sending copies of any receipts, and giving them 14 days to respond. If there’s no response, you should then try and issue a claim through the courts.